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Womb Fibroids or Cervical Polyps – Which Should I Be More Worried About?

November 8, 2023

This post explores whether symptoms of Fibroids and cervical polyps are worse.

These are common gynaecological conditions but have distinct differences.

Sometimes, though, they may bear a few similarities, so if you’ve been wondering what they are and how to distinguish them, this article should be a great help!

We will address the comparison using 7 different categories that will help understand the key characteristics of these conditions.

Before we start, which of these two conditions do you think is more challenging to treat? (Answer at the end of the post!)

Comparing Fibroids and Cervical Polyps

Cause

First, let’s begin with what they are/or where they come from.

Fibroids are benign growths of the womb, developing from its muscle. 

On the other hand, cervical polyps are benign growths that look like fingers, which develop specifically on the surface of the cervix, which is the lowest part of the womb.

So there are clear differences – even though both are benign and affect the womb, fibroids develop from its muscle while polyps affect its upper surface. Remember, some fibroids can develop from the cervix as well.

Risk Factors

Next, let’s look at conditions or situations that lead to the development of both conditions – are any the same?

For Fibroids, we do not know what causes them.

Still, certain factors increase your chance of getting them, such as:

  • being within childbearing age,
  • having hormone imbalance with excess oestrogen implicated,
  • your family background or your ethnicity, with fibroids occurring more frequently among people of black ethnic backgrounds like Africans, Afro-Caribbeans or African Americans.
  • smoking and
  • diet may also play a role.

On the other hand, Cervical Polyps are often linked to chronic inflammation, hormonal changes such as using a birth control method or some types of infections.

So, something both have in common is some disturbance in the hormone profile.

Symptoms

The next category is the symptoms of these two conditions – how do they stack against each other?

There are several fibroid symptoms – most commonly heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding.

This may happen with or without pelvic pain, painful sex, bloating and frequent urination.  Don’t forget – there are a group of women who have fibroids but do not experience symptoms.

Cervical polyps also lead to irregular vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding between periods and after sex, pelvic pain and painful sex. Some women may also experience abnormal vaginal discharge with a polyp. 

Image showing drawings of the womb and demonstrating fibroids or cervical polyps

Occurrence by Age

Another interesting category is the age at which either condition most often happens, as sometimes that helps with a clue towards the diagnosis.

Fibroids can develop at any age but are more common in women of reproductive age, typically between 30 and 40.

Cervical Polyps – can occur in women of all ages.

Still, they are more common in women over 20 and often during menopause.

Complications of Fibroids V Cervical Polyps

Okay! Now, let’s consider what could be the outcome of these conditions, which, judging by the symptoms, I’m sure you have a fair idea about.

Fibroids could lead to a life of chronic discomfort and anaemia from heavy bleeding. But it can also mean challenges getting pregnant and complications during pregnancy.

While cervical polyps may only rarely lead to complications, they can undoubtedly disrupt routine life with bleeding problems and the discomfort they cause.

Diagnosis

What tests will help us diagnose and clearly differentiate between these two conditions?

Some standard tests will do the trick here.

 A cervical polyp may be seen during a routine pelvic examination with a vaginal speculum. If the fibroid is large enough, your doctor may feel it during an abdominal and pelvic examination.

A pelvic USS is of value in clearly identifying fibroids and is one of the most common tests for this purpose. 

Other tests of value are hysteroscopes (when a camera is inserted into the womb to visualise its internal surface), MRIs or tissue biopsies to analyse and confirm the lesions are benign. 

Treatment Options

And next, how are these conditions treated?

Well, let’s start with the simpler one to treat.

And – Yes! You were right if you said Cervical Polyps in response to my earlier question.

Polyps can be removed easily by surgery to cut it away, laser treatment, or forceps to remove tiny ones – even in the clinic under some local anaesthesia!

On the other hand, fibroids are a different story. There are a variety of treatment options.

There may be drugs to control symptoms or even shrink them for a short while for small to medium-sized fibroids.

Larger-sized fibroids can also be treated by surgically removing them. In severe cases, removing the womb is an option (hysterectomy). 

Other treatments, such as surgery alternatives like fibroid embolisation, may also help.

Some people prefer natural options – a few, like Vitamin D or Green Tea, may make a difference in helping control symptoms.

However, there is limited evidence they can shrink or altogether remove the fibroids.

Prevention

When it comes to preventing these conditions, what do we find?

With fibroids, there is no sure way of prevention – you may be able to control the symptoms and some risk factors.

With cervical polyps, ensuring regular checkups, such as at your cervical smear test or having new symptoms promptly checked, is essential. 

Any Surprises?

We’ve looked at key similarities and differences between these two conditions – what did you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

If you suspect either condition, speak to your doctor or contact us, as early detection and proper treatment are crucial.

 And if you require a more in-depth dive into fibroids – we’ve got you!

There are two comprehensive playlists on our video channel all about fibroids – the most recently completed just a few weeks ago, marking Fibroids Awareness Month.

More Reading

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team

Disclaimer

All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners to help promote quality healthcare. 

The advice in our material does not replace a qualified healthcare practitioner’s management of your specific condition.
Please get in touch with a health practitioner
 to discuss your condition, or reach us directly here.

Our post may contain affiliate links at no cost to you. There is no obligation to use these links. Thank you for being so supportive!

Image Credits: Canva

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2 Comments

  • Rugi

    November 9, 2023 7:47 am

    This has been informative.
    I have learnt something new about their differences and similarities.
    In fact, I didn’t know about polyps until now.
    This article has been of help.
    Interesting topic about women’s health based on fact.
    Thanks for sharing your professional expertise with the world.

    • askawayhealth_dev

      November 21, 2023 7:19 am

      Glad you found it helpful – thanks for watching.

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